I have blocked people on social media who I once truly enjoyed knowing and with whom I looked forward to conversing. I haven’t done it often, but the case that stands out most prominently in my mind taught me a long overdue lesson about drawing clear boundaries.
If someone attacks me or attempts to belittle me, I cut off contact. Similarly if someone attempts to publicly assign a label to me, or to other people, that I find insulting, misleading, or dangerous, I cut off contact. If someone uses humor that I find deplorable, I cut off contact. This goes both ways. I get cut off too. Case(s) in point:
- Femi-nazi, Communist, Socialist, and other ill-defined labels. Trolls and conservative attorneys have fallen into this category for me.
- Ethnic or degrading humor, insulting slang terminology. I call people out on this and it is this calling out that often prompts people to cut me off.
- Causing harm to, or endangering, me or others. The case in point I best remember here is unfriending the sister of someone with whom I went to school who was forwarding Gucifer 2.0 memes, Army of Jesus B.S., that came into my feed in 2016. I did not get the contact blocked in time to keep my account safe.
Keeping those boundaries in a public world can be difficult. Our personal perceptions and beliefs rarely align perfectly with community norms. Behaviors condoned by society as a whole may well violate tenets of our private beliefs.
The personal and private have been respected as part of the fiber of American democracy and instituted in the structure of our representative democratic founding documents and laws. The rule of law was not intended to restrict as much as to enable citizens to pursue their livelihood and happiness. Of course behavior that harms others has to be contained and mechanisms for law enforcements have developed. But how do we keep all this in balance.
I first really understood how out of balance our society is at the moment when a seemingly reasonable and intelligent woman told me we are not a democracy but a republic.
This is a dangerous misconception.
The balance within our system is tenuous. The concept of democracy traces back, as far as we know to early Greek thought. But the contemporary use of the word democracy is quite closely associated with The United States of America.
John Adams, Noah Webster, Thomas Jefferson , Chief Justice John Marshall, early Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, all used the term democracy to describe our nascent state. Pure democracy? No, but in the framers minds, in their intent and in their words they viewed our country as a democratic nation. Yes, we are a republic too.
When large numbers of groups of people begin to think or believe that they know “the truth” without having researched it for themselves, when they begin to spout platitudes of leaders or groups without verifying facts, we are in a dangerous time.
Start by reading the above-referenced article. It has grea t links to some other basic information. Verify some of it in a reference book off the internet. Ask a historian. Find more than one source. Trust but verify.
I choose to think as independently as I can. So I look for patterns in the sand, and try to not slip or sink. Be aware and observe.